Being a fashion influencer is a career that many people dream of these
days, but is it possible to be one while having a full-time job? A
corporate girl by day working in Manhattan, New York’s demanding banking
industry, Somali-American influencer Hawa Ali shows that it’s doable to
juggle both. Scrolling through her Instagram feed, @hawaalamode, it’s
immediately apparent Ali is inspired by New York City herself.
FashionUnited recently chatted with Hawa Ali about how she manages to
consistently deliver quality content while clocking in the long corporate
hours, who she creates with and what she hopes to achieve as a style

Are you from New York? If not, what made you move here?

I was born in Somalia but have lived in the US the majority of my life.
Growing up, my family first lived in New Jersey and later in Ohio, where I
consider home. Since spending my formative years in the Midwest, I always
wanted to live and work in New York like I saw my dad do when I was a
little girl.

Four years ago, I decided I wanted to do just that while still in my 20s
and could do crazy things. My husband, a native Ohioan, and I decided to go
for it! I landed a job a month before I left, sold our new condo and my
brand new car within a matter of days and we embarked on our NYC adventure.

How did you decide to become a fashion influencer and when did you

New York has since become my adopted home and has inspired me to not
only progress in my banking career but also to be more authentically
myself. As part of this journey, I started creating content on my blog and
Instagram in 2018 as a way to give voice to my creativity and to reconnect
with a part of myself that always used fashion and photography as a form of
self-expression-and voilà, @hawaalamode was born!

I don’t think it was a conscious decision to become an influencer. When
we were kids, my sister and I would set up different props in our bedroom
and take pictures trying on different looks. However, as I got older,
practical concerns and my studies led me to a career in finance. At some
point, I realized I needed a balance between working to excel in my banking
career and nurturing my need to be creative.

How do you juggle working a full-time job in New York City and creating
content for @hawaalamode?

It’s definitely not easy! During the week my job in banking consumes my
time; which is how it should be as I am intrinsically motivated to give my
all to everything that I do. During the weekends I reserve a few hours for
shooting. I have been lucky enough to connect, shoot, and attend events
with other amazing creatives who manage impressive professional careers of
their own. Being in NYC makes it easier for me to create content regularly
and do it in the company of fun, interesting, and like-minded people!

Who do you photograph with, where and when?

I have met immensely talented, beautiful, and inclusive bloggers,
influencers, and fashion enthusiasts through meetups, events, and
Instagram. These girls, like me, have careers in Finance, Marketing, PR,
and the medical field; they lead fully multifaceted lives and we’re
connected by our passion for the art of fashion, travel, and the need for
creativity and self-expression.

We plan ahead on where and when to shoot. Typically, we match our
locations around the City based on the time year (e.g., 5th Avenue during
Christmas or Central Park during the cherry blossom season). Living in such
a gorgeous and dynamic place, we also take advantage of this by choosing
iconic NY landmarks as backdrops.

What tips can you share with us on creating unique and beautiful

  • Photos: courtesy of @hawaalamode, courtesy of Hawa Ali

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